My name is Azaan Wilbon, a third-year graduate student in the Chemical, Physical & Structural Biology Program. I am originally from Maryland and studied biochemistry at the University of Miami.
I currently work in the Ming Zhou lab where we focus on the structure and function of membrane proteins. My current project is to determine the substrate binding site of bile acid transporters through structural and functional probing. This work allows me to explore structural biology using both X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy. In addition, I get a chance to explore and collaborate with structural biologists throughout the medical center and the world as we work together on structural determination and move cryo-EM forward as a mainstream stuructural biology tool.
After earning my Ph.D., I look forward to pursuing a career in the biotechnology industry before becoming a professor at a historically black college or university. As the son of HBCU professors, I look forward to using my experiences to help guide and mentor the next generation of black scientists.
Overall, being a graduate student is exciting because it allows the freedom to explore topics and fields that are of personal interest. The freedom allowed by Ph.D. programs can be overwhelming at times, but it also nurtures the exploration and discovery that pushes the human experience forward.
There is also a community of individuals to share those experiences and develop bonds outside of the lab—those experiences are food, soccer, and basketball for me.